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2023 Summer Member Highlight: Kailah Hester

Kailah is a senior at UPenn, graduating in December 2024 where she majors in Design, and is hoping to pursue a master’s in Social Work after graduation. She served during summer 2023 and now is a mentor with our UPenn Village Mentoring chapter. In her free time, she loves to take naps, color, and also does hair for fun! 

Summer 2023 Wrapped: 

Kailah served a group of about 15 children at Lucien E. Blackwell in West Philly. She was on a team with 3 other Summer Enrichment Coordinators, and one Youth Service Manager.

What was the highlight of your service?

It was such a rewarding experience. Our team took a lot of time to be intentional about what we planned, with energy spent considering the things that the kids would get excited about. We got really into the themes and made the activities based on those themes. It was really fun to see it all play out and come together over the summer! One of the big highlights was superhero week. We partnered with the Free Library and they came every Friday to read a book connected to the theme and give out prizes. On superhero week, they brought a ton of superhero toys and made masks with the kids - there was glitter everywhere! 

What were the challenges you experienced? 

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to do when the kids get bored when you’ve planned an activity and purchased supplies for it. It’s important to adapt and adjust to what the kids are requesting, while also trying to keep the other objectives in mind. We were thinking, “How can we turn simple drawing into something that’s a little educational but also connects to their interests?” Working with kids in the beginning was sometimes a challenge to overcome because they all had to get to know one another, as well as set up processes as a team to make sure each child had a positive experience. To be clear, the kids were not a challenge - but it took time, effort, and intention to get to know them and address root causes of behaviors as the summer progressed. 

Are there any notable or special moments you want to share?

Me and Rinah (previously highlighted!) made a song for the kids that our group had a love/hate relationship with! It’s a parody of the Drake and 21 Savage song, haha! 

How would you describe your DREAM experience in a phrase or a few words?

  1. Joyous! I was always laughing and smiling even when things needed to be serious - I couldn’t even keep a straight face because we were really just always having fun. 

  2. Educational! The kids exposed us to so much, taught us about being a part of the community, and showed a different side of Philadelphia than what we usually see as UPenn students.

  3. Valuable - I talk about it all the time! I am currently an intern at the Mayor’s office and I am constantly sharing my experiences with people there. 

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